Dir: Uwe Boll
Star: Michael Paré, Will Sanderson, Ralf Möller, Andrew Jackson
While the DVD came with a copy of a PC video-game, this does not appear to have been based on a game. Still, this closeness may help explain the uneven nature here. There are two highly-memorable scenes – though as we’ll see, not necessarily in a good way – but these are countered by a muddled script that has little logic, even by the light standards of the “serial killers from beyond the grave” genre, and an approach to cinematography too often apparently reliant on a pack of Swan Vestas for lighting.
The villain is Max Seed (Sanderson), a killer responsible for the deaths of over six hundred people in a six-year period. He taunts police by sending them time-lapse footage of the decomposing bodies of his victims, from cockroaches to babies, but is eventually caught by Detective Matt Bishop (Paré). Sentenced to death by electric chair, Seed survives three attempts – according to state law, he can’t be executed again, so Bishop pretends Seed is dead and has him buried in the prison grounds anyway. When the killer digs his way out of the earth and resumes his spree, Bishop has to find the “copy-cat” before Seed takes very personal revenge on the man who sent him to a premature grave.
The flaws in the plot are almost too numerous to list, but here are a sample:
- How does Seed have time to take multiple, lengthy time-lapse videos, which must take months to shoot, and still kill about one person every three days?
- Why is he allowed to keep his serial-killing mask on, right up until execution?
- The guy kills over 600 people – and a “copy-cat” another 60-odd – and Bishop is apparently the only guy investigating?
- The “three strikes and you’re free” rule claimed to be “state law” at the start of the film, is complete BS.
- Cops will split up, and go off entirely on their own when searching a pitch-black serial killer’s house.
- And that’s aside from the whole unkillable killer thing; you’d think having his eyes pop thanks to the application of 15,000 Volts might slow you down a bit. Apparently not.
The scenes in the house seem to go on for hours, and you’ll be forgiven if you fall to sleep during these. The film only comes to life and claws its way back from the dead when Seed does. There is one scene which is simply brutal: he has tied up a woman and starts off tapping her with a hammer, but it escalates to an utterly savage bludgeoning – all done, apparently, in one shot. You keep expecting the camera to cut away – but it doesn’t. It goes on. And on. “The point for me was to make a movie that is completely uncompromising,” Boll told Fangoria in October 2006. For that shot at least, it’s a success – qualified only by the fact that we don’t know who the victim is, which limits the emotional attachment. However, the ending is so completely bleak, it also backs up the intent.
The first shot, however… For Boll has used footage of 100% genuine animal cruelty. Sure, he obtained it from PETA themselves, but I really think the justification for it here is pretty slim. Especially as an opening gambit, the result comes across nothing more than a cheap attempt to shock. Albeit a successful one, since the footage is pretty difficult to watch, even if I’m more a cat person, shall we say. But if you’re going to do this, you need to have a clear purpose; simply having your psycho watching it, as here, isn’t enough.